Eastern tiger swallowtail on Lobelia (image by author)
“Writing is like lying down in the road and asking people to stop and look at you, and today, I got run over.”
This line, spoken by the young Lawrence Durrell, is from the PBS production of “The Durrells In Corfu”. Lawrence has just hosted a public reading to celebrate an early piece of his writing and no one, other than a confused and elderly man unknown to him and a small cadre of close family, attends.
Alice Munro, master of the contemporary short story, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, and non-possessor of a MFA degree.
No, a MFA is not needed here–not at the august literary journal, The Missouri Review, that is.
Here is an excerpt from an encouraging email I received last month from TMR about the writing backgrounds of the winners of its prestigious Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize contest:
“Writing contests can feel intimidating, especially for writers who are honing their craft on their own, outside the imposed structure of a workshop or graduate program. I’ve heard writers ask, “Do people without MFAs ever win these contests?” The answer is yes. It has happened before and will happen again.”
And this is good, of course, and it’s encouraging to read something like this.
But isn’t this, writers, our just due?
When did a MFA degree become de rigueur in the literary world?
Chicago Botanic Garden, 10/16 (photo by author)
Autumn, glorious autumn. Glorious or not, autumn is not always a time dear to my heart.
Well, it is dear to my heart, my everyday heart that absolutely loves autumn. But not dear to my writer’s heart. And perhaps, writers, you recall or can guess why.
Like all writers, I have a life. That is, a life apart from writing. I know, it can be hard to believe that writers can find the time and resources to earn degrees, land jobs, fall in love, marry, buy houses, produce children, pay taxes, unclog drains, and weed the garden.
That our lives, on the outside, can appear so boringly, or brightly, normal to the casual viewer.
Blue Dancers, Edgar Degas, c 1899
What happened on Wednesday?
For starters, bored with a story that wasn’t coming together, at least not in the way I want, I took an abrupt writerly turn and with little planning or forethought, pulled out of the dusty bins of my laptop a story that I wrote some time ago.
Some time ago? I wrote this particular story years ago.
Selfridge’s Department Store, London, 1942 (image Wikimedia Commons)
Writers, it hurts.
I know; I’ve been there, and I’m there now. As I said in an older post, rejections are raining!
The good news about this is that it means I’ve been submitting a lot as of late. The bad news is…Well, there are a number of bad things that fall out of receiving rejections.
Rookery Building, Chicago, main staircase (Image by author)
It’s October. Writers, we know what that means, right?
Of course, it’s submission season! The time of year all writers look forward to!
How can we not?
So much has been said about the recent shootings at the Paris offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, that I hesitate to add my thoughts to the groundswell of support, outrage, and grief over the crime.
But I have been dismayed to see that in addition to outrage and grief there has also been criticism of the writers of Charlie Hebdo, and an apparent confusion among some observers between approval, or agreement, with content, and support for freedom of speech.
As writers, I believe that each of us–regardless of how we feel about the content of the magazine Charlie Hebdo–is Charlie Hebdo (“Je suis Charlie“).
(from July ’09)
Kousa dogwood (image author)
I am slowly, but surely, letting go of the conflicted feelings multiple rejections in a short space of time engendered in me. Actually, it hasn’t been that slow a process as I’ve been writing, reading, meeting with other writers, and working on other submissions all along.
What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been letting go internally, in a deeper way, of a number of expectations and beliefs about my writing, what I want from it, and why I do it. And that this has been positive and healthy, even liberating.